TEDx Dalton

Gah-Jone Won | The secret to handling a high-pressure situation: A glaucoma story

Gah-Jone Won is an accomplished UW alumnus doing fascinating research in glaucoma, the leading cause for irreversible blindness. He received his PhD from Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and is now a post-doctoral research fellow at the Krembil Research Institute, Toronto Research Hospital. In 2016, he won the Three Minute Thesis competition at the national level, designed for graduate students across Canada to communicate the depth and significance of their research to a non-technical audience in under three minutes.

In his talk, Dr. Won informed the audience about glaucoma and some of the incredible things his team is doing to combat this disease. Glaucoma is a general term for a variety of diseases, all of which cause vision loss due to deterioration of the optic nerve. He pointed out that although elevated ocular pressure (high fluid pressure in the eye) is a major risk factor, some have high ocular pressure and never develop the disease, while others develop the disease under completely normal ocular pressure levels. Because of this, the causes and onset of glaucoma are kind of like a black box to researchers.

Dr. Won’s team is trying to peek inside this black box using their innovative device, the Organotypic Ocular Perfusion System, or OOPS for short. He promises that the device is a lot more reliable than its abbreviated name implies. What this device does is sustain human eyes outside of the body by simulating their natural environment. They can control and monitor everything from fluid pressure to pH, as well as the diffusion of substances (like drugs) within the eye. Pretty amazing stuff! Using eyes donated from deceased individuals, his research group seeks to better understand the causes of glaucoma, and develop effective treatments for it.

Thank you, Dr. Won, for this great talk and your great work!

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